Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Trans-fat Alternatives - Are They Really Healthier?

The answer to this question is in the details. Let's make it as easy as possible:

Of course, if you see either of these names on the product label, it contains trans fats...AVOID. Even if it says no trans fats or trans fat-free on the label, it still could have .05% trans fats by FDA law:
  • Partially hydrogenated oil
  • Hydrogenated oil
When you see these names on the label, put the product down and move on to the next product:
  • Interesterified fat
  • Fully hydrogenated oil
  • Lard
  • Cottonseed oil
When you see these names on the label, look at the nutriton facts to see what percentage of saturated fat is in the product. If it is equal to or less than 10% of daily value for saturated fat, it is fine. The other 90% of saturated fat in your daily will most likely come from animal products. These are natural saturated vegetable fats:
  • Palm Oil
  • Palm Kernel Oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Copra Oil (dried coconut meat)
When you see these names on the label, be aware of potential digestive reactions. Otherwise, they are okay:
  • DAG oil (Enova brand)
  • Corn oil
  • Vegetable Oil (usually corn)
When you see these names on the label, they are fine (organic and extra virgin preferred):
  • Soybean oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Canola oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Saflower Oil
  • Sesame oil

Replacing UAS Labs DDS-100 Acidophilus w/FOS

Our policy at Nutritional Concepts is to periodically assay the nutraceuticals we dispense for safety and efficacy. If a product does meet our requirements, we stop carrying the product.

An assay done by an independent laboratory confirmed that the most recent batch of UAS Labs DDS-100 Acidophilus capsules DID NOT meet label claim. The amount of active cultures for two capsules came in below the 2 billion listed on the label.

We have told UAS Labs of our intentions to suspend dispensing their product until they can prove through independent lab testing that their product meets label claim.

Replacement Options:

1. If you are treating an existing yeast issue with the UAS Labs, switch to Metagenics Ultra Acidophilus DF in powder form. If you are currently taking eight capsules or less of UAS Labs daily, you only need to take ½ teaspoon daily of the Ultra Acidophilus. We spent many hours researching other dairy-free alternative to UAS Labs. The only product that had similar ingredients and better research data was Metagenics Ultra Acidophilus.

2. For everyone else taking UAS Labs, switch to Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF capsule. You only need to take one capsule daily.

3. If you would like another option that is more readily available, you can go with Culturelle Lactobacillus GG, but unfortunately, it is not dairy-free and has chicory-root extract (a salicylate). Not recommended for those with previous or current yeast issues.

Please refer to the latest research on Lactobacillus Acidophilus NCFM, which is in the Metagenics Ultra Flora and Ultra Acidophilus.

More fat linked to less weight in kids study

According to the Swedish Research Council, higher intake of fats is associated with lower body weight. The research also correlated higher BMI with higher sugar intake. Researchers said that more studies are planned to investigate if obesity was being caused by an early increase in insulin, and not fat. The dissertation study focussed on 182 healthy four-year-olds in Gothenburg and examined eating habits and lifestyles. Twenty per cent of the children were classified as being overweight based on their body mass index. Diets, socio-economic, lifestyle and health questionnaires were completed by the parents of the children, and analysis of the children's body build showed that weight increases was a result of the body storing more fat, but those who ate the most fat were not the ones who weighed most. Instead, children who ate the most "junk food" were the most overweight, reports lead Dietitian Haglund Garemo. Startlingly, a fourth of all energy requirements of the children was coming from "junk food" (candy, ice cream, cookies, and sweet beverages).

According to Garemo, "every third child in the study ate far too little unsaturated fat, above all too little omega-3. These children had significantly higher body weight. This supports other studies that show that obese children have shortages of omega-3," she said.

Steve - this study is not saying to load up on unhealthy saturated fat. What it is saying, something that we have echoed for years, is that excess carbohydrate consumption from refined grains and junk food is the main obesity indicator, not high fat intake. There have been several studies like this that have come to the same conclusions within the last year. Another major discovery in this study relates to the children's scant consumption of unsaturated fats, in particular, omega-3.

Kids’ fruit, veg consumption inadequate

Less than one in ten US children are eating the recommended levels of fruit and vegetables per day, according to a study in February’s issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The latest information adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that most adolescents fail to meet the nation’s dietary guidelines. According to the study, which analyzed the behavior of almost 900 children aged 11 to 15, only 12 percent of participants consumed the recommended five or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables.

Family dietary practices were found to be associated with adolescents’ food choices, with parents’ consumption of fruit and vegetables being identified as a predictor of adolescent consumption habits.

According to a report issued in September by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one third of American children are either obese or at risk for obesity. And the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that in the past quarter century, the proportion of overweight children aged 6-11 has doubled, while the number of overweight adolescents has tripled. The dramatic rise in obesity has prompted widespread changes throughout the food industry, schools and communities in an effort to prevent the spreading epidemic. Indeed, the IOM’s report examined the nation's progress in preventing childhood obesity, providing further recommendations for government, industry, media, communities, schools, and families to collectively respond to the growing obesity epidemic in children and youth.

Steve - not much more we can add to this besides reiterating the importance parents have in the health of their children.

Why nonprofits fund companies that do drug research

Science has made paralyzed rats walk, cured mice of cancer and eliminated Alzheimer's in more lab rodents than you can count. Human patients? Not so much. "There's frustration that developments from academic labs don't get picked up by (drug and biotech) companies," says Dayton Coles, board member of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Fed up with breakthroughs that fill journals rather than medicine chests, private foundations and charities that have traditionally funded academic scientists have started doing the once-unthinkable: writing checks for millions of dollars to for-profit companies. It's a sign of desperation. One reason there have been so few drug breakthroughs lately is that the profit motive actually works against the development of new pharmaceuticals. Drug companies suffer from blockbuster-itis, the belief that only billion-dollar almost-sure things need apply for development. As a result, even the most brilliant discovery may not be translated into a drug unless it has 10-figure sales potential. Also, short time horizons on the part of venture capitalists, who generally want to see their biotech bets pay off in three years, don't mesh well with the lengthy drug-development process. Enter the charities. Earlier this month, JDRF announced that it was giving $2 million to MacroGenics Inc., a Rockville, Md., biotech, for a phase-2/3 clinical trial of an antibody that might slow progression of type-1 diabetes.

This week the Michael J. Fox Foundation announced that it had awarded Sangamo $950,000 to apply its gene-regulation research to slowing Parkinson's disease. In March, Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy, founded by parents of children with this rare disease, ponied up $402,500 to help Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Boston, develop a drug for the disease.

Charities realize that writing checks to for-profits might not be what their donors had in mind. "We debated whether it was right for our money to go to a company that might make a profit," says JDRF board member Michael White. "We're not unconcerned about that. But we've invested so much in discovery, what we need now is to take these things to market. We're taking on the role of 'venture philanthropists.'"

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal

Magnesium could help build bone strength

Making sure young girls get enough magnesium may help keep their bones strong, according to new research. But the findings are too preliminary for any blanket recommendations to be made on taking magnesium supplements for bone health, said Dr. Thomas O. Carpenter of Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, the study's lead author. "There's a number of caveats that have to be taken into account," he said. Magnesium plays a key role in bone formation, and many young women don't get enough of the mineral, Carpenter and his team note in December's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

To better understand the role of magnesium supplements and bone health in a healthy population, they randomized 44 girls aged 8 to 14 to take 300 mg of magnesium daily for one year or a placebo. All of the girls had intakes of the mineral that were below 220 mg a day; the recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 240 mg for girls aged 8 to 13 and 360 mg for girls 14 to 18 years old. The girls given magnesium showed significantly greater bone mineral content in the hip than those who took placebo, while their spinal bone mineral content also was greater, but not significantly so, the researchers found. No serious side effects were reported.


Monday, January 29, 2007

Drug company 'hid' suicide link

Secret e-mails reveal that the United Kingdom's biggest drug company distorted trial results of an anti-depressant, covering up a link with suicide in teenagers. A documentary by Panorama Films reveals that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) attempted to show that Seroxat worked for depressed children despite failed clinical trials. And that GSK-employed ghostwriters influenced "independent" academics. GSK told Panorama: "GSK utterly rejects any suggestion that it has improperly withheld drug trial information." GSK faces action in the US where bereaved families have joined together to sue the company. As a result, GSK has been forced to open its confidential internal archive.

Karen Barth Menzies is a partner in one of the firms representing many of the families. She has examined thousands of the documents which are stored, box upon box, in an apartment in Malibu, California. She said: "Even when they have negative studies that show that this drug Seroxat is going to harm some kids they still spin that study as remarkably effective and safe for children." GSK's biggest clinical trial of Seroxat on children was held in the US in the 1990s and called Study 329. Child psychiatrist Dr Neal Ryan of the University of Pittsburgh was paid by GSK as a co-author of Study 329. In 2002 he also gave a talk on childhood depression at a medical conference sponsored by GSK. He said that Seroxat could be a suitable treatment for children and later told Panorama reporter Shelley Jofre that it probably lowered rather than raised suicide rates.

In amongst the archive of emails in Malibu, Shelley was surprised to find that her own emails to Dr Ryan from 2002 asking questions about the safety of Seroxat had been forwarded to GSK asking for advice on how to respond to her. She also found an email from a public relations executive working for GSK which said: "Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. "Essentially the study did not really show it was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicize." But the article was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry which says it ranks as number one in child mental health in the world.

The editor in chief of the British Medical Journal, Fiona Godlee, said that what she calls the "blind-eye culture of medicine" should be exposed by professionals. She has written in response to the Panorama film: "We shouldn't have to rely on investigative journalists to ask the difficult questions. "Reputations for sale are reputations at risk. We need to make that risk so high it's not worth taking."

Seroxat was banned for under 18s in the United Kingdom 2003 after the MHRA, revealed that GSK's own studies showed the drug actually trebles the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviour in depressed children.

Steve - amazing as it is, this is not the first or the last time it will happen in the drug industry. There is too much money at risk. However, with the intense scrutiny the public has put on Big Pharma, it will be tougher to get away with it. Big Pharma's backs are against the wall with full disclosure. There was a New York Times piece last week questioning the "blockbuster" model. Pfizer's negative results of their failed HDL-drug would have been easier to cover up in the past. However, with the recent discoveries about Vioxx and Seroxat after the fact, Pfizer was forced to come clean before the drug went to market.

What a shocker! US consuming too many soft drinks

The What America Drinks report was commissioned by the Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) and found that beverages account for 22 percent of calories in the average American diet. Nearly 50 percent of Americans aged four and above consume sugary soft drinks on any given day, according to MilkPEP. In the US, soft drinks add 36 percent of all added sugars to the American diet, MilkPEPS said. Mean regular soft drink intake per capita was calculated at 12 fluid ounces per day, or one and a half glasses.

Steve - one has to question the motives of the group behind this report. It is obvious that the dairy industry would like consumers to stop ingesting soft drinks and start drinking more milk products. What a dream it would be if the dairy and soft drink industries duke it out with immense public relations campaigns exposing their detrimental effects.

As far as the efficacy of the statistics in this report...not to far off from other recent data. The United States consumes FAR, FAR too many soft drinks.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cold Medicine Risky for Kids Under 2

Giving cough and cold medications to children under 2 years old can be dangerous, even deadly, according to a new investigation conducted by the CDC. Three infants, all aged 6 months or younger, died in the U.S. in 2005 after receiving cough and cold medicines, according to the report, published in the Jan. 12 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. All three had what appeared to be high levels of the nasal decongestant ingredient, pseudoephedrine, in their bloodstream. In addition, 1,519 children 2 years old and under were taken to U.S. emergency departments during 2004-2005 for side effects associated with cough and cold medications, including overdoses.

Bonnie - this report flew completely under the media radar.

Folic acid linked to reduced cleft lip in infants

Folic acid supplements during early pregnancy could reduce the risk of cleft lip in infants by 33 per cent, says a new study from Norway that appeared in the British Medical Journal.

Norway has no folic acid fortification program in place and the country is said to have one of the highest rates of facial clefts in Europe. The new study, by researchers from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Norway’s University of Bergen, University of Oslo, Oslo’s Rikshospitalet, and Haukeland University Hospital, identified infants born between 1996 to 2000; 377 with cleft lip (with or without cleft palate), 196 with cleft palate only, and 763 healthy controls. After adjusting for smoking and other confounding factors, folic acid supplementation of 400 micrograms or more a day reduced the risk of cleft lip with or without cleft palate by 40 per cent. The lowest risk of cleft lip was among women with folate rich diets who also took folic acid supplements and multivitamins, said the researchers.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Why are healthy, thirty-something's dropping dead?

You have heard me talk about magnesium countless times. It is the most important nutrient I recommend. I am creating awareness yet again, because recently, I have heard about too many healthy thirty-somethings, be it family friends, or friends/acquaintances of clients, who have died suddenly engaging in rigorous exercise (basketball and marathons, for example). All of the deaths had a similar theme: cardiac related...reason for death, inconclusive.

February happens to be Heart Health Month, so there is no better time to reiterate the importance of magnesium.

Very few people are aware of the enormous role magnesium plays in our bodies. After oxygen, water, and basic food, magnesium may be the most important element. So vitally important, yet hardly known. Magnesium activates over 300 different biochemical reactions, all necessary for your body to function properly.

Magnesium is more important than calcium, potassium, or sodium and regulates all three. When we get too low on oxygen, water or food, the consequences are serious. Yet, we do not realize the severity of magnesium deficiency.

Melvin Werbach, MD, nutrition expert and former professor of medicine at UCLA has stated that because 72% or more Americans (according to a recent NHANES study) are magnesium deficient, this mineral is the greatest reason for unexplained deaths in the United States. This should come as no surprise because magnesium is most importantly needed in heart muscle cells.

As far back as 1980, in Magnesium Deficiency in the Pathogenesis of Disease, Professor Seelig of University of North Carolina stated: "The most alarming trend in the past half-century has been the sharp increase in sudden deaths from ischemic heart disease, particularly in middle age men, and the increasing number of younger men who suddenly develop catastrophic heart attacks. It is proposed that magnesium deficiency or loss may be a common etiologic factor."

The data suggesting an association between magnesium and sudden death is long. However, the call for magnesium fortification and supplementation from a few public health experts have fallen on deaf ears. It has been suggested that if every American regularly took oral magnesium supplements, deaths from CVD would fall by 150,000 per year.

Silent Killer
Why is nobody paying attention to this as a cause of death for healthy young persons when we know that it affects energy, heart rhythm, and electrolyte balance?
  • Magnesium is not a money maker. It is one of the most abundant minerals on the earth. Pharmaceutical giants are not going to promote magnesium unless they can chemicalize it into a patentable substance.
  • Magnesium in most sources can cause loose stools, not an ideal side effect. However, amino acid chelate sources (such as bis-glycinate, the source I recommend) do not cause loose stools.
  • Magnesium deficiency is often misunderstood, misdiagnosed, often overlooked. Testing magnesium levels by serum blood is poorly reflective of one's magnesium stores. A 24-hour urine after intravenous magnesium loading is the most accurate, but not the most convenient testing method.
  • Severe magnesium deficiency may not manifest any visible symptoms or signs until there is a catastrophic event. One study noticed that a spike in long chain free fatty acids in a group of patients with acute myocardial infarction (heart attack), but detecting magnesium deficiency at this stage is often too late.
  • Many food additives, such as artificial sweeteners, medications such as diuretics, stress, and depression deplete magnesium. Most health professionals do not know this.

  • Magnesium is not prevalent in the Standard American Diet. Additionally, food refining and processing contributes to large magnesium losses. Unfortunately, tap water is not a great source for magnesium any longer. Except in foods such as dark chocolate, nuts, seeds, beans, fish, avocados, and leafy greens, magnesium is not a common nutrient. I fondly call it "nature's valium" because of its many biochemical calming effects, including reducing stress. This makes magnesium supplementation a necessity for many. Magnesium is very safe from a toxicology standpoint in the presence of normal renal function.
Conclusion
For those healthy thirty-something's who engage in rigorous exercise once to several times weekly, we suggest supplementing with 200-300 milligrams daily of well-tolerated magnesium. If in amino acid form
(such as bis-glycinate), take away from meals. If taking oxide, aspartate, or gluconate, take with meals to reduce potential for loose stools.

Research Snipits:

  • According to research published by the UK Food Commission, food mineral content studied in 1940 compared to 2002 shows a stark change for the worse. Mineral loss was seen across the board, including crucial nutrients like magnesium, zinc, calcium, and copper. One would need to eat 4 carrots now to get the same magnesium content as one carrot in 1940.

  • Subjects with the lowest intake of fiber and magnesium were three to four times as likely to have Type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and inflammation (via C-reactive protein blood test). Am J Clin Nutr 11/06

  • A daily magnesium supplement could reduce the levels of inflammation that leads to heart disease in people with low dietary intake of the mineral. “The key finding is that magnesium intake from supplements has an impact on the likelihood of having elevated C-reactive protein, separate from and in addition to dietary magnesium intake,” wrote lead author Dana King in the latest issue of Nutrition Research 7/06.

  • According to a recent study in the journal Epidemiology, of more than 4,000 men aged 30-60, those with the highest blood level of magnesium were associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, death from cancer, and cardiovascular disease by 40, 50, and 40 percent, respectively.

  • A magnesium-rich diet may help reduce the risk of metabolic syndrome and, perhaps, a heart attack or diabetes, Northwestern University researchers report in Circulation: JAMA 6/02

  • Summary. Magnesium is an often overlooked electrolyte that is essential to life. Deficiency of magnesium is becoming more common in the U.S. population. Conditions that may be associated with magnesium deficiency include hypertension, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia, myocardial infarction, diabetes mellitus, and preeclampsia; in many of these, magnesium supplementation has been found beneficial in clinical studies. Supplementation should be considered for patients with risk factors for deficiency and should be instituted for patients showing symptoms of deficiency. In addition to instituting supplementation when appropriate, the clinician should identify and correct the underlying cause of the deficiency. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy 8/04

  • The objective was to determine the effects of acute and chronic oral magnesium supplementation on endothelial function in patients with symptomatic heart failure. Patients who received magnesium had improved small arterial compliance at 3 months from baseline compared with placebo. This study suggests that chronic supplementation with oral magnesium is well tolerated and could improve endothelial function in symptomatic heart failure patients. Congest-Heart-Fail 2/06

  • Our findings suggest a salutary effect for magnesium supplementation in the treatment of AngII-induced myocardial complications from high blood pressure. J Hypertension 2/05

  • Most Americans consume magnesium at levels below the RDA. Individuals with intakes below the RDA are more likely to have elevated C-reactive protein, which may contribute to cardiovascular disease risk. Am J Clin Nutr 6/05

  • Oral magnesium therapy in Coronary Artery Disease patients is associated with significant improvement in brachial artery endothelial function and exercise tolerance, suggesting a potential mechanism by which magnesium could beneficially alter outcomes in CAD patients. Circulation 2000

  • Other applicable references:
  1. Altura BM and Altura BT. Magnesium and cardiovascular biology: An important link between cardiovascular risk factors and atherogenesis. Cell Mol Biol Res 1995;41:347-59.
  2. Ford ES. Serum magnesium and ischaemic heart disease: Findings from a national sample of US adults. Intl J of Epidem 1999;28:645-51.
  3. Liao F, Folsom A, Brancati F. Is low magnesium concentration a risk factor for coronary heart disease? The Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. Am Heart J 1998;136:480-90.
  4. Ascherio A, Rimm EB, Hernan MA, Giovannucci EL, Kawachi I, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Intake of potassium, magnesium, calcium, and fiber and risk of stroke among US men. Circulation 1998;98:1198-204.
  5. Shechter M, Bairey Merz CN, Stuehlinger HG, Slany J, Pachinger O, Rabinowitz B. Effects of oral magnesium therapy on exercise tolerance, exercise-induced chest pain, and quality of life in patients with coronary artery disease. Am J Cardiol 2003;91:517-21.
  6. Shechter M, Sharir M, Labrador MJ, Forrester J, Silver B, Bairey Merz CN. Oral magnesium therapy improves endothelial function in patients with coronary artery disease. Circulation 2000;102:2353-58.
  7. Shechter M, Merz CN, Paul-Labrador M, Meisel SR, Rude RK, Molloy MD, Dwyer JH, Shah PK, Kaul S. Oral magnesium supplementation inhibits platelet-dependent thrombosis in patients with coronary artery disease. American Journal of Cardiology 1999;84:152-6.
  8. Tucker KL, Hannan MT, Chen H, Cupples LA, Wilson PW, Kiel DP. Potassium, magnesium, and fruit and vegetable intakes are associated with greater bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69(4):727-36.
  9. Jaing T-H, Hung I-H, Chung H-T, Lai C-H, Liu W-M, Chang K-W. Acute hypermagnesemia: a rare complication of antacid administration after bone marrow transplantation. Clinica Chimica Acta 2002;326:201-3.
  10. Whang R. Clinical disorders of magnesium metabolism. Compr Ther 1997;23:168-73.
  11. Ho J, Moyer TP, Phillips S. Chronic diarrhea: The role of magnesium. Mayo Clin Proc 1995;70:1091-2.

Medium caffeine intake "does not affect pregnancy"

Drinking moderate amounts of caffeine during pregnancy does not lead to premature births or underweight babies, Danish scientists said on Friday.

Unlike other research projects in which women who had given birth were asked how much coffee they drank while pregnant, the Danish scientists monitored 1,207 pregnant coffee lovers who were randomly selected to drink either a caffeinated or decaffeinated brew during the second half of the pregnancy.

The women did not know which group they were in.

"We had two groups and we actually found no difference between the average birth weight for moderate intake of caffeine -- about three cups," said Bech, whose findings are reported online by the British Medical Journal.

Bonnie - one cup (8 oz.) of regular coffee daily or 2 cups regular tea maxiumum are fine. NO SOFT DRINKS!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Vitamins C and E linked to lower kidney cancer risk

Increased intake of the antioxidant vitamins C and E could cut the risk of kidney cancer by 28 and 44 per cent, respectively, says a new study from Italy.

“In the present study, based on a large dataset and with extensive information on major sources of vitamins and micronutrients in the Italian population, an inverse relation was observed between vitamin E and vitamin C intake and RCC risk,” wrote lead author Cristina Bosetti from Milan’s Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche. The multi-centre case-control study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, assessed the dietary intakes of 767 renal cell cancer patients (494 men and 273 women) and 1,534 controls (988 men and 546 women) using a 78-item food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) from which micronutrient intakes were calculated. After adjusting the results to eliminate possible confounding factors, such as age, BMI, sex, smoking habits and alcohol consumption, the researchers calculated that an intake of more than 17.5 micrograms per day of vitamin E was associated with a 44 per cent reduced risk of renal cell cancer, compared to those with an intake of, on average, 11.9 micrograms. They also report an intake of more than 186 micrograms per day of vitamin C was associated with a 44 per cent reduced risk of renal cell cancer, compared to those with an intake of, on average, 89.4 micrograms.

The study does have several notable limitations, including relying on food frequency questionnaires to gather dietary information.

Bonnie - I agree that there are limitations to this study, but the reduced risk percentages were significant.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights - January

As we do every month, here is a brief summary from our favorite nutrition journal.
  • Increased Waist Circumference, not BMI (Body Mass Index), is negatively associated with pulmonary (lung) function.

  • There is higher risk for inflammation in normal-weight women whose fat mass is greater than 30% of their body weight than normal-weight women who have less than 30%.

  • A small study showed that obese women on a weight loss regimen while supplementing with 600mg calcium/200IU vitamin D lost more weight than women on placebo.

  • Breastfeeding increases the likelihood of ideal visual development as opposed to children given formula.

  • Selenium supplementation in young, well-norusihed subjects can mount a compensatory antioxidant response to HIV infection.

  • In seniors with low vitamin B-12 status, high serum folate was associated with anemia and cognitive impairment. When vitamin B-12 status was normal, however, high serum folate was associated with protection against coginitive impairment.

  • A study to explain ethnic differences in levels of HDL, the "good cholesterol," may be due to excess carbohydrate intake. Of four ethnic groups, South Asians ate the most carbohydrates and had the lowest HDL, while Chinese ate the least carbohydrates and had the highest HDL.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Yummi Bears test high for vitamin A and zinc

Consumerlabs.com, an independent testing organization, found that one of the multivitamin supplements we often recommend for children, Hero Nutritional Yummi Bears, was found to have more vitamin A and zinc than was on the label. This is not consistent from what we have seen in assays over the years. The lab tested individual batches and to be accurate, several batches should be checked.

If the tests are found to be accurate, the amount of vitamin A and zinc discovered is not close to being a toxic level. Besides my young clients, 3 of my grandchildren have been taking the Yummi Bears for years with no issues.

However, if you do not feel comfortable with your child taking the Yummi Bears, we have a great chewable called Pure Bears by Pure Encapsulations. Coincidentally, we started carrying these last month because they are much lower in sugar than the Yummi Bears.

Bonnie


The following is the statement from the CEO of Yummi Bears:

Dear Valued Customers and Consumers,

We were deeply disturbed by the recent reports concerning the supplement industry and our Yummi Bears Multi Vitamin Product. Hero Nutritionals is the number one maker of children’s vitamins in America, and we take this matter very seriously. There is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our consumers. Our company was founded over 10 years ago with the mission of improving the health and welfare of children and adults by providing high quality nutritionally sound supplements.

Consumerlabs.com, the publisher of the report, has been challenged in the past as to inaccurate findings. Hero Nutritionals has requested information regarding the methodology of their testing and the product batch number. Consumerlabs.com has yet to respond.

Hero Nutritionals wants to assure every customer that we have procedures in place for quality assurance purposes.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Hodges, founder and CEO

Bonnie and Steve responds to NY Times' article "Dietary Supplement Safety: Some Disquieting Data"

The article was written by Dan Hurley, who just happens to have a new book that came out December 26th entitled, Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry.

The entire NY Times article can be read at nytimes.com's health section.

The main point of emphasis in Mr. Hurley's piece is a report published by the American Association of Poison Control Centers. The AAPCC has kept statistics on reports of poisonings for every type of substance, including dietary supplements. Mr. Hurley twists these statistics to his benefit, leaving out very important details. For example:
  • In 2005, 125,595 incidents were reported related to vitamins, minerals, essential oils, herbs, and other supplements. This is by no means an insignificant number. However, when you compare it to Analgesics' 283,253 incidents alone, it pales in comparison. Vitamins do not even crack the top 15 of substances most frequently involved in human exposures. Mr. Hurley fails to mention this.
  • Mr. Hurley refers to deaths related to dietary supplements. Of the top 23 categories associated with largest number of reported deaths, dietary supplements are not among them. Mr. Hurley fails to mention this. 15 of the top 23 categories are medications however.
Let's look deeper into the 2005 deaths attributed to dietary supplements that Mr. Hurley singles out:
  • Melatonin - intentional suicide attributed to an overdose of Pine Oil, Isopropyl Alcohol, and Melatonin; does one really believe that Melatonin was to blame?
  • Chinese Herbal - intentional suicide
  • St. John's Wort - no mention of reason for death
  • Glucosamine - intentional suicide attributed to an overdose of Naproxen and glucosamine; are we to believe Glucosamine was the culprit?
  • Minerals - intentional suicide attributed to an overdose of iron; the other death was unintentional misuse of sodium bicarbonate
Aside from the St. John's Wort and Sodium Bicarbonate, one can see how facts can be twisted to favor one's journalistic slant if one leave's out the fine print..

Note that in 2005 there were no deaths attributed to vitamins.

In no way, shape, or form are we indemnifying dietary supplements from blame. The statistics that Mr. Hurley shows with related to number incidents should be taken seriously. However, we cannot sit back and let Mr. Hurley twist the facts. Many of us do not have the time to read the fine print of a report like the AAPPC's. That is why we are here.

Mr. Hurley also failed to mention that late last year the government passed into law The Dietary Supplement and Nonprescription Drug Consumer Protection Act, which requires marketers of dietary supplements and OTC drugs to inform the FDA if they receive reports of serious adverse events associated with their products. See our response:

http://nutritionalconcepts.blogspot.com/2006/12/nutritionist-applauds-passing-of.html

We have said from the beginning that dietary supplements should be treated with caution and should always be prescribed in conjunction with a health professional, if possible. It is particularly important for those taking medication, if elderly, if very young, or if pregnant/nursing.

When misused, dietary supplements can have adverse effects. When used properly, dietary supplements have an unquestioned safety record. We have 25 years of in-office clinical data to prove it. When comparing the adverse effects and deaths of dietary supplements to
pharmaceuticals, it is not even close.

Have a happy, healthy day.

Bonnie and Steve



Selenium as adjunct HIV therapy?

Selenium supplements may slow the progress of HIV, according to interim results of a National Institutes of Health study. In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial, daily doses of selenium substantially increased serum levels of the metal and prevented increases in HIV viral load, found Barry Hurwitz, Ph.D., of the University of Miami. Compared with those who taking a placebo, volunteers who got selenium also saw their CD4 cell count increase as an indirect result of good viral control, Dr. Hurwitz and colleagues reported in the Jan. 22 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. "Given the challenges of using conventional pharmacotherapy to achieve and maintain virologic suppression," the researchers concluded, "our results support the use of selenium as a simple, inexpensive and safe adjunct therapy." One thing that isn't clear is how long the effect will last. Dr. Hurwitz and colleagues reported data from half way through the 18-month trial and said that the complete study will yield a better understanding of the duration of the effect.

Steve - we blogged about selenium in Feb 2006 and its relation to preventing bird flu. Here is a snipit: "there are important nutrients, especially the mineral selenium, which determine the immune response of organisms to invading microbes and viral particles. Selenium has been identified as one of the factors in AIDS etiology by geo-epidemiologist Harold Foster. The mineral, or rather a lack of it, is also implicated in the appearance of avian influenza. Selenium supplementation for fowl is recommended where the feed grains themselves do not contain a sufficient amount of this important mineral."

http://nutritionalconcepts.blogspot.com/2006/02/interesting-option-for-bird-flu.html

Antidepressants may raise bone risk

Antidepressants might substantially raise the risk for bone breaks in older people, a drawback that should be considered when the drugs are prescribed, according to a study that appeared in Archives of Internal Medicine.

People aged 50 and older who took antidepressants, including Zoloft, Prozac and other top-sellers, faced double the risk of broken bones during five years of follow-up, compared with those who didn't use the drugs, the study found.

Still, few of 5,008 people studied used the drugs and had fractures. While more rigorous research is needed to prove the link, the study provides the strongest evidence yet tying these drugs to fracture risks, said Dr. David Goltzman, an endocrinologist at McGill University in Montreal and one of the study authors. The study was part of ongoing osteoporosis research funded partly by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and makers of osteoporosis drugs.

Amy Sousa, a spokeswoman for Prozac maker Eli Lilly and Co., said the drug's label lists osteoporosis as a potential but rare side effect. Still, she said the new study was too small to establish any proof that SSRIs might cause fractures.

Courtesy AP

Niacin: An Old Cholesterol Remedy Is New Again

Pfizer Inc., the pharmaceutical giant, recently halted late-stage trials of a cholesterol drug called torcetrapib after investigators discovered that it increased heart problems - and death rates - in the test population. The drug was to have been a blockbuster heralding the transformation of cardiovascular care primarily by increasing HDL, or good cholesterol. For patients now at high risk of heart attack or stroke, the news is not all bad. An effective HDL booster already exists. It is niacin, the ordinary B vitamin. In its therapeutic form, nicotinic acid, niacin can increase HDL as much as 35 percent when taken in high doses, usually about 2,000 milligrams per day. It also lowers LDL, though not as sharply as statins do, and it has been shown to reduce serum levels of artery-clogging triglycerides as much as 50 percent. Despite its effectiveness, niacin has been the ugly duckling of heart medications, an old remedy that few scientists cared to examine.

“There’s a great unfilled need for something that raises HDL,” said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic and president of the American College of Cardiology. “Right now, in the wake of the failure of torcetrapib, niacin is really it. Nothing else available is that effective.” In 1975, long before statins, a landmark study of 8,341 men who had suffered heart attacks found that niacin was the only treatment among five tested that prevented second heart attacks. Compared with men on placebos, those on niacin had a 26 percent reduction in heart attacks and a 27 percent reduction in strokes. Fifteen years later, the mortality rate among the men on niacin was 11 percent lower than among those who had received placebos. “Here you have a drug that was about as effective as the early statins, and it just never caught on,” said Dr. B. Greg Brown, professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle. “It’s a mystery to me. But if you’re a drug company, I guess you can’t make money on a vitamin.”

Courtesy of NY Times

Bonnie - Bingo! Dr. Brown hit it right on the head. Unlike a vitamin, creating a new drug like torcetrapib would have brought Pfizer billions.

Niacin is extremely effective in raising HDL. In fact, Dr. Stephen Devries, the preventive cardiologist that I work with, has always been an ardent supporter of niacin. It us up to doctors to rediscover niacin again.

When taking niacin in high doses, it must always be under a doctor's supervision. Niacin can in rare instances, can cause liver damage and can impair the body’s use of glucose. A more frequent side effect is flushing. It becomes less pronounced with time, and often it can be avoided by taking the pills before bed with a bit of food. Doctors also recommend starting with small doses and working up to larger ones. Extended-release formulations of the vitamin, taken once daily, are now available by prescription.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Folic Acid May Slow Hearing Loss

Folic acid may slow age-related hearing loss, an Annals of Internal Medicine study shows. The study looked at 728 Dutch men and women aged 50 to 70. Unlike the U.S., the Netherlands does not require folic acid supplementation of flour. Participants in the Dutch study had high blood levels of homocysteine. Folic acid reduces homocysteine levels, so the Dutch study participants apparently consumed very little folic acid. Half the study participants got strong folic acid supplements -- 800 micrograms per day. The other participants got an inactive placebo pill. After three years, those who got folic acid pills had less low-frequency hearing loss than did placebo recipients.

Study highlights infants’ need for zinc, iron

Young children may be at risk of iron and zinc deficiencies as they are weaned off milk or formula, according to two reports.

From the age of six months, it is advised infants tend to be weaned onto semisolids rather then relying just on milk – in particular because breast milk does not meet their iron and zinc needs at this stage of development. According to Nancy Krebs, MD, professor of paediatrics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and former chair of the American Academy of Paediatriacs Committee on Nutrition, the iron and zinc needs of the older breast-fed infant may be best provided by meat and liver. The same nutrients, she said, are not provided in a plant based diet or one without food fortification or nutrient supplements. In a review article in the February issue of The Journal of Nutrition, Dr Krebs weighs up the potential for boosting zinc intake with cereals like maize, wheat, rice and roots – however these are accompanied by factors that make the minerals less bioavailable. “In contrast to current practices in both developed and developing countries, meats should be considered as an early complementary food for breast-fed infants to provide essential micronutrients,” concluded Dr Krebs.

The same issue of the Journal of Nutrition also contains a review of recent findings on iron deficiency and development of the central nervous system. “Infants are at risk for iron deficiency as breast milk or formula is replaced by semisolid foods during weaning,” wrote John Beard of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, Pennsylvania State University. “Depending on the stage of development at the time of iron deficiency, there may be an opportunity to reverse adverse effects, but the success of repletion efforts may be time dependent.” Dr Beard reviewed preclinical and clinical studies to identify the regions of the brain and behaviors affected, and perhaps irreversibly altered, by early-life iron deficiency in humans, monkeys, and rodents.

Bonnie - this is a very important issue that is often overlooked. Zinc and iron are crucial in infant development. However, one must seek out a health professional to help decide which route is the best to attain these nutrients. Zinc and iron can be toxic if not prescribed properly.

Fast food easier to find than healthful fare, study says

Fast food isn't just fast; it's also plentiful.

In California, people are more than four times as likely to find a fast-food restaurant or convenience store than a grocery or produce store, according to a study released today by the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.

The researchers say it's a dangerous ratio in the face of an expanding national obesity crisis: It limits consumers' choices to the convenient rather than the nutritious. Moreover, they say, some areas offer far fewer healthy choices than others.

"Where someone lives directly affects their chances of being overweight," said Harold Goldstein, the center's executive director. "In neighborhoods with fewer grocery stores than fast-food restaurants, the residents not only have higher obesity rates, but they also have higher rates of dying."

Based on its findings, the center recommended that communities offer incentives to increase the number of grocery stores and produce vendors and that they limit the number of fast-food restaurants and convenience stores. Further, it endorsed a requirement for providing nutritional information on fast-food menus and menu boards.

Courtesy LA Times


Steve - there are other ways to remedy this situation: the dollar is king! Do not purchase the junk at fast food restaurants and convenience stores while requesting they create healthier fare. If they lose money, they will change their menus. In addition, eat more meals at home so you can better control what you are putting into your mouth.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Omega-3-rich walnuts linked to improved bone health

Consuming food rich in the plant omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) like walnuts and flaxseed oil improved bone health, according to a small trial from the US.

“This is the first controlled feeding study in humans to evaluate the effect of dietary plant-derived omega-3 PUFA on bone turnover, assessed by serum concentrations of [the markers of bone resorption and formation] N-telopeptides (NTx) and bone-specific alkaline phosphatase (BSAP),” wrote lead author Amy Griel from the Penn State Univerisity.

Writing in the Nutrition Journal, Griel and her co-workers report the results of their randomised, double-blind, balanced order, three-period crossover study with 23 overweight people with moderately high cholesterol levels. The subjects were randomly assigned to one of three diet groups for six weeks, one of which were rich in flaxseed oil and walnuts.

“The results from the group who ate a diet high in flaxseed oil and walnuts indicate that plant sources of dietary n-3 PUFA may have a protective effect on bone metabolism via a decrease in bone resorption in the presence of consistent levels of bone formation,” said the researchers.

Steve - while a small study, it adds to the bevy of research supporting omega-3's.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Bacteria balance in gut may infleunce weight gain

According to a study that appeared in journal Nature, there are trillions of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, but two groups called the Bateroidetes and the Firmicutes are the most dominant and their proportion varies in lean and obese mice and humans. More research is needed to explore balancing the levels in these catogories as an apporach to treating obesity.

Steve - isn't it interesting that Lactobacillus Acidophilus, which we have been recommending for years, is in the Fermicutes family!

Anheuser-Busch offer sorghum beer

Redbridge is the name of the new beer for those sensitive to wheat or gluten. Anheuser-Busch worked closely with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness in developing Redbridge.

Courtesy AP

Food Pyramid headed to supermarkets

A campaign paid for by food companies and supermarket chains will bring the new food pyramid to over 2,000 stores in 17 states. Critics are already calling it a publicity stunt.

Bonnie - as many of you know, I am not a proponent of the 2005 Food Pyramid. Read 2005 MyPyramid: What the USDA Won't Tell You.

Can milk consumption increase the risk of twins?

According to a study headed by OB-GYN Gary Steinman at New York's Long Island Jewish Medical Center, women who drink milk or eat any kind of dairy products are five times as likely to have multiple-birth pregnancies as those who do not. The researchers postulate that growth hormone (bGH) given to cows to boost milk production may be one of the reasons for the increase. Three in one hundred American women give birth to twins.

Research shows little benefit with Human Growth Hormone

Human growth hormone (GH) has been touted for its supposed ability to do everything from build muscle to shave fat to thicken bones to lower cholesterol.

A new study appearing in the January 16 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine says there's no scientific evidence to these claims. Researchers found that if taken by healthy adults it could cause a host of unhealthy side effects, including joint pain, soft tissue swelling, carpal tunnel syndrome, increased breast size in men, and a heightened risk of diabetes and pre-diabetes.

"Growth hormone should not be used for anti-aging purposes," says Hau Liu, a research fellow in endocrinology and health policy at Stanford University. "This costs hundreds to thousands of dollars a month and there is no scientific evidence supporting it and very real, potentially serious side effects."

Liu's team studying healthy senior citizens using growth hormones found that the drugs increased lean body or muscle mass by slightly more than four pounds) and decreased fat mass by roughly the same amount. But Liu says the body changes did not translate into benefits: Longevity, bone density, cholesterol levels, stamina and blood sugar levels did not significantly change or improve.

Bonnie - I vehemently oppose the use of human growth hormone for anti-aging. I have seen too many adverse side effects in clients who have tried it.

Renewed evidence suggests statin/Parkinson's link

New research showing a strong link between Parkinson's disease and low levels of "bad" cholesterol are so worrying that U.S. researchers are launching a study to look into it.

The team at the University of North Carolina is planning clinical trials involving thousands of people to see whether statin drugs, which lower low density lipoprotein, or LDL, might actually cause Parkinson's in some people.

Other research has for several years suggested that people with abnormally low levels of LDL might be at higher risk of Parkinson's.

Xuemei Huang and colleagues found that patients with low levels of LDL cholesterol are at least three and a half times more likely to develop Parkinson's disease than those with higher LDL levels.

Writing in the journal Chemistry & Industry, they said they plan a bigger study of patients taking statins, the biggest-selling drugs in the world.

"I am very concerned, which is why I am planning a 16,000-patient prospective study to examine the possible role of statins," Huang said in a statement.

Courtesy Reuters

Bonnie - I will be anxiously awaiting the results of this trial.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Safeway & Chipotle Chains Dropping Milk & Dairy Derived from Monsanto's Bovine Growth Hormone

Safeway's processing plants in both Portland and Seattle have now gone rBGH-free.

Safeway brands of milk, Lucerne, will be labeled rBGH-free. As with other dairy processors that have gone rBGH-free, Safeway is requiring that dairy farmers supplying them milk must sign affidavits stating they won't use rBGH.

Another huge factor was Starbucks' decision to ask its suppliers to go rBGH-free. Safeway Lucerne is their Northwest supplier and Starbucks has already disclosed that this move in the Northwest will take them to 37% rBGH-free nationwide from 27%.

Chipotle Mexican Grill Starts Goes rBGH-free for Sour Cream

In other good news, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced that it will now start serving only rBGH-free sour cream at its more than 530 restaurants.

Steve Ells, founder and CEO, said "We have long favored an approach to farming that emphasizes care over chemicals. We believe that the energy and effort that goes in to raising these animals in the most natural way possible really translates in the quality and great taste of the food."

Steve - these are huge statements made by large food comapnies that they are listening to their customers who DO NOT want the bovine growth hormone in their products.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Magnesium benefits children with asthma

According to a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children with asthma who took 300 mg of supplemental magnesium for two months showed improvements in their bronchial responsiveness, fewer asthma exacerbations (wheezing, chest tightness, or cough), and had less skin reactivity to allergens.

Bonnie - I have always and continue to prescribe magnesium for asthma and allergy. In addition, I will continue to consider magnesium the most important supplemental nutrient one can take.

Prozac no better than placebo in treating Anorexia

A double-blind, placebo controlled study of 93 anorexia patients showed no benefit to those taking Prozac than the placebo during five years of treatment. This is depressing news as Prozac is the first-line therapy for Anorexia.

The sugar in pomegranate juice does not adversely affect blood sugar

Israeli researchers found that because the sugar in pomegranate are attached to specific antioxidants, it does not contribute to hardening of the arteries and does not have the negative impact on blood sugar levels and other diabetes parameters.

Courtesy of Natural Solutions, Winter 2007

Oral contraceptives decrease levels of CoQ10 and vitamin E

According to research done at New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine, of 55 premenopausal women (fifteen taking oral contraceptives and forty were not), those taking oral contraceptives had levels of CoQ10 and vitamin E that were 37 percent and 24 percent lower, respectively, than those not taking them. The researchers say that adequate supplementation can bring the levels to normal while on oral contraceptives.

Courtesy of Alternative Medicine, January 2007

A new Seasonal Affective Disorder therapy

According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, getting 90 minutes of nightly exposure to an ion-generating device, which releases charged particles into the air, was just as effective as light therapy in treating 77 SAD patients.

Breast feeding babies need extra vitamin D

Researchers studying 84 breast-feeding infants found that of the 35 who did not receive any supplements, 78% lacked sufficient levels of vitamin D in the winter. This number dropped to 4% in summer, when they get more sun exposure.

All infants who received supplemental vitamin D showed adequate lvels in both the summer and winter.

Courtesy of Natural Solutions, Winter 2007

Bonnie - this is why a little sunshine for infants (without sunscreen) is beneficial. An infant vitamin formula with vitamin D or 1/3-1/2 tsp. of Carlson Cod Liver Oil after age six months should also boost vitamin D blood levels naturally.

Survey shows docs not pleased with nutrition training

A survey conducted by the California Table Grape Commission showed that three out of four doctors believed the nutriiton training they received in medical school was less than adequate. Nealry all of the 400 Doctors surveyed (all member of the American Academy of Family Physicians) it was thier responsibility to provide dietary and nutritional counseling to patients. Yet, only two out of ten doctors felt very informed counseling patients. 96 percent indicated an interest in learning more about nutrition.

Legislative Note

An important statement flew under the radar in October 2006:

President Bush signed the Older Americans Act Amendment. In doing so, for the first time, Congress recognized the benefits of multivitamin use in a statute.

Section 318 of the Amendment states: "While diet is the preferred source of nutrition, evidence suggests that use of a single daily multivitamin-mineral supplement may be an effective way to address nutritional gaps that exist among the elderly population, especially among the poor; and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that multivitamin-mineral supplements may be useful when they fill a specific identified nutrient gap that cannot be or is not otherwise being met by the individual's intake of food.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Higher folate levels linked to lower Alzheimer’s risk

An increased intake of folate by diet and supplements may halve the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, suggests new research from the US.

Writing in the Archives of Neurology, lead author Jose Luchsinger from Columbia University Medical Center, New York, reports that after analyzing the diets of 965 individuals, and then following them for about six years, the highest intake of folate from both dietary and supplements was associated with a significant reduction in the risk of developing Alzheimer’s.

Ninety-eight per cent of these dietary assessments were obtained in 1996 or earlier, before the introduction of mandatory folate fortification of grain - an overwhelming body of evidence linked folate deficiency in early pregnancy to increased risk of neural tube defects (NTD) in infants.

After an average of 6.1 years of follow-up, 192 cases of Alzheimer’s disease had been diagnosed. After adjusting for potential confounding factors, like age, sex, ethnicity, cardiovascular history and B6 and B12 intake, Luchsinger and co-workers report that increasing folate intake, from both dietary and supplemental sources, was associated with a significantly reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease (50 per cent risk reduction).

Higher folate intake was modestly correlated with lower homocysteine levels, "indirectly suggesting that a lower homocysteine level is a potential mechanism for the association between higher folate intake and a lower Alzheimer's disease risk," said the authors.

The researchers stress that no definitive conclusion about the role of folate in the development of Alzheimer's disease can be made, since the findings are at odds with previously published studies.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Charles S. Robertson Memorial Gift for research on Alzheimer's disease, the Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller Foundation, and the New York City Council Speaker's Fund for Public Health Research.

Steve - piggybacking on today's AJCN entry, more positive data on how important folate is for cognitive function.

Report Warns Of Biases in Drink Studies

Can the source of a study's funding affect its conclusions?

Maybe, according to a paper looking at beverage studies in the online journal PLoS Medicine, published by the Public Library of Science.

The paper looked specifically at research about milk, soft drinks and juice. Not only are all three beverages popular, but "they're all highly controversial, highly profitable and heavily marketed to children," notes the study's lead author, David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life Program at Children's Hospital in Boston.

At the National Library of Medicine's Medline database, Ludwig and his colleagues culled through more than 500 papers on the beverages published between 1999 and 2003. Studies that were done only in animals or that did not look at health outcomes were eliminated. So was research that didn't cite funding sources. That left 111 studies to examine closely.

To reduce any potential bias, the team members did their analysis in separate steps. One researcher chose the studies that met the project's standards for inclusion. Two others reviewed each study's findings after the paper's title, authors and sponsors and had been removed from the text. These two researchers also classified the study's conclusions as favorable, neutral or unfavorable to the beverage under investigation. A fourth scientist, who was blinded to the other team members' conclusions, then estimated whether the findings would benefit, disadvantage or be neutral to the funder's financial interests.

The team found that studies funded by industry were four to eight times more likely to show bias in favor of sponsors' products than studies that did not receive industry funding.

"That suggests that financial conflict could provide fundamental bias in the scientific literature," notes Ludwig, whose research was sponsored by the Charles H. Hood Foundation and the Department of Medicine at Children's Hospital.

Since the U.S. Dietary Guidelines and other nutrition advice are based on the scientific literature, the team notes that its findings have "potentially significant implications for public health."

Courtesy of Washington Post

Steve - what a shock! We have said this all along, especially in the case of milk.

Milk cancels health benefit of drinking tea: study

Drinking tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke but only if milk is not added to the brew, German scientists said on Tuesday.

Research has shown that tea improves blood flow and the ability of the arteries to relax but researchers at the Charite Hospital at the University of Berlin in Mitte found milk eliminates the protective effect against cardiovascular disease.

"The beneficial effects of drinking black tea are completely prevented by the addition of milk, said Dr Verena Stangl, a cardiologist at the hospital.

"If you want to drink tea to have the beneficial health effects you have to drink it without milk. That is clearly shown by our experiments," she told Reuters.

Stangl and her team discovered that proteins called caseins in milk decrease the amount of compounds in tea known as catechins which increase its protection against heart disease.

They believe their findings, which are reported in the European Heart Journal, could explain why countries such as Britain, where tea is regularly consumed with milk, have not shown a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke from drinking tea.Courtesy Reuters

Courtesy of Reuters

Steve - this goes with what we have said all along about the recent research lauding the benefits of coffee and tea. Adding milk, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other condiments cancel out most of the benefits. In order to reap the benefits from coffee and tea, it must be consumed plain, or at least with something like stevia, which is an herbal sweetener with no glycemic properties.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Highlights

Snipits from our the December issue of our favorite journal.

Older Persons
  • Diet and exercise therapy decreases multiple metabolic coronary heart disease risk factors simultaneously in obese adults 60 or older. Lifestyle intervention is the cornerstone of therapy because it improves waist circumference, blood pressure, serum lipids, glucose, insulin sensitivity, inflammatory markers, and body composition.
  • It is essential for clinicians to recognize vitamin B-12 deficiency at an early stage, before the neurologic health of a person is irreversibly affected.
  • In another study, vitamin B12 deficiency in the elderly is associated with lower cognitive function scores and particularly lower scores of language comprehension and expression.
  • Elevated SAH, the precursor to homocysteine, is common the elderly and can be reduced with oral B12 supplementation.
  • In the elderly population, elevated homocysteine is associated with deficits in constructional ability and processing speed and folate is associated with measures of episodic memory and language. Thus, proper folate levels are essential.
Dietary Supplements
  • Garlic supplementation had no significant positive effect on three major risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
  • Early and late circulating concentrations of a-tocopherol (vitamin E) from prenatal vitamins are positively associated with normal fetal growth.
  • Supplementing with as little as 400 mg. of omega 3's daily may reduce the risk of depression.
  • A olive oil-rich diet supplemented with fish oil and plant sterols may reduce cardiovascular risk more than supplementing with fish oil alone.
  • Policosanol was not effective in altering serum lipid profile over an eight week period in adults with mild hypercholesterolemia.
Food
  • Consumption of even modest amounts of fructose may significantly increase the risk of development of cardiovascular disease and adipocisity (fat creation).
  • Higher intakes of fruits and vegtables are associated with a lower risk of metabolic syndrome due to lower CRP (C-Reactive Protein) concentrations. Intake of fruits and vegetables are a primary preventive measure against cardiovascular disease.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Vitamins + Children = Increased School Performance

Vitamin Relief USA’s (VRUSA) annual survey confirms that the vitamin program for undernourished children throughout the U.S. is dramatically improving children’s lives. Parents and teachers of two thousand participating children attributed improvements in the children’s health, energy, appetite, sleep, grades, concentration, social
behavior and even self-confidence to the daily vitamin program.

Over half of the parents reported an increase of energy and appetite in their children. 36% of teachers and 36% of parents said students’ self esteem had improved. One out of every four parents said their children were less depressed, less angry and less aggressive. Almost one third of teachers reported an increase in the children’s concentration.

In addition, survey results confirm that long term use of VRUSA vitamins leads to an increased reduction of seasonal illness in children. For example, in 2002, 37% of teachers and staff reported less illness in participating children, compared to 52% this year. In day-to-day life, this improvement in the children equates to less time at the doctor’s office and more time in the classroom. It is no surprise that more than one-third of the teachers and staff reported the
students were performing better at school.

Vitamin Relief USA, a tax-exempt 501©3 non-profit organization committed to improving the health status of children, seniors and adults through vitamin supplementation provided daily vitamins to over 24,000 children in 31 states across the United States.


Infant outcome worse with planned c-section

Newborns who are delivered via planned cesarean section are more likely to be transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and to experience lung disorders compared with those delivered via planned vaginal delivery, according to findings published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The researchers examined the outcome of deliveries during a 6-month period, along with data from the Medical Birth Registry of Norway on intended mode of delivery.

Of the 18,653 deliveries, 17,828 were planned vaginal deliveries and 825 were planned cesarean deliveries.

Rates of transfer to the neonatal intensive care unit were 5.2 percent for planned vaginal deliveries, significantly lower than the 9.8 percent for planned cesarean deliveries. Lung disorders were also significantly lower in the planned vaginal delivery group (0.8 percent) than in the cesarean delivery group (1.6 percent).

"For the child, the stress of vaginal delivery seems superior to elective cesarean delivery in many situations," the researchers conclude. "Therefore, we emphasize the importance of limiting planned cesarean deliveries to cases with proven benefit for the mother and/or child," they write. "When a planned cesarean delivery is chosen, the operation should be as close to term as possible."

Courtesy of Reuters

Bonnie - this was a very large and significant trial. Many planned cesarean's are performed out of "convenience" for either the doctor or patient. In these instances, one should seriously consider the pros and cons.

Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM: a probiotic alternative to traditional intestinal pain killers?

In a study that appeared in Nature Medicine, researchers from Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research) demonstrate for the first time that the oral administration of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM™ mediates analgesic functions in the gut equivalent to morphine effects.

The results, suggest that the microbiology of the intestinal tract influences visceral pain perception and open new perspectives in the treatment of abdominal pain and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with this unique probiotic strain. “When we put intestinal epithelial cells in contact with various lactic acid bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM™ induce a significant expression of ยต opioid receptor (MOR) and receptors for cannabinoid (CB2) that exert an analgesic effect”, says Pr Desreumaux*, principal author of the study. ”One could envision NCFM to be prescribed for intestinal functional disorders or co-administrated with morphine to relieve serious gastrointestinal pathologies, therefore reducing the morphine doses and related side effects.”

Bonnie - why is this so significant?
  1. It shows how important probiotics are to the gut from a preventative and therapueitc standpoint.
  2. The strain used in this study is the found in our Metagenics Ultra Flora Plus DF Caps.
Nothing but the best for our clients!

Acid Reflux Drugs May Up Fractures

Proton-pump inhibitors -- the popular drugs that fight stomach acid -- increase the risk of hip fractures, a U.S. study shows. The drugs are Aciphex, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec (called Losec in Europe), and Protonix. A new study shows that when taken long term the drugs may have a side effect: hip fracture. People over age 50 who take the drugs for more than one year have a 44% increased risk of breaking a hip, find University of Pennsylvania researchers Yu-Xiao Yang, MD, and colleagues.

Taking proton-pump inhibitors at higher doses -- and for longer periods -- dramatically increases the risk. Long-term, high-dose use of the drugs ups the risk of hip fracture by 245%.

The findings appear in the December issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

Bonnie - this is why I never recommend taking PPI's long-term. Getting to the root of the cause of reflux is of the utmost importance because otherwise, PPI's just mask the issue and never correct it. Obviously, side effects such as the aforementioned and others that have been well-chronicled by this health professional warrant much thought.

Olive oil linked to lower blood pressure

Moderate intake of olive oil, a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet, was successful in reducing the blood pressure of healthy men who don’t usually eat a Med-type diet, suggests a new study published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The researchers randomly assigned 110 healthy men from non-Mediterranean countries (Germany, Finland and Denmark) and 45 men from Mediterranean regions (Spain and Italy) to include one of three similar olive oils (25 millilitres per day) in their diets. Systolic blood pressure (SBP) of the non-Mediterranean men decreased significantly by three percent, compared to baseline measurements.

If it's in the house, parents will eat it

Studies suggest that obesity is a family problem. But it’s not just parents who set the menu — kids have an influence too. Parents who give in to their kids’ requests for fatty foods, such as pizza, usually end up indulging with them, according to a study appearing in the Jan. 4 online edition of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. Compared with adults living without children in the home, adults living with kids younger than 17, on average, take in an additional 4.9 grams of fat daily. And 1.7 grams of that additional fat is saturated fat — the artery-clogging kind of fat that abounds in many meat and dairy products, processed foods and meals taken out from fast-food joints and eaten in restaurants.

The latest research is one of a raft of new studies that look at how family dynamics affect an individual's propensity to become overweight. In consumer studies, parents routinely cite their children as key drivers of snack food choice, home menu selection and restaurant visits. Perhaps, the authors suggest, the nation's epidemic of overweight and obesity should be approached by looking at how children form their food preferences and how those preferences influence their parents' decisions about what to buy and consume.

"Kids can be very persuasive" in coaxing their parents and guardians into buying the fatty, sugary and salty foods that are overwhelmingly marketed to them, the researchers says. "We've all been there. But as parents, we have to think twice about buying these foods for our kids," he adds. "That they can make kids fat and start them down the road toward obesity is reason enough. They can also be very tempting for us as adults."

Courtesy of LA Times

Bonnie - this is so true. This an extremely important part of keeping a healthy lifestyle at home. Caving in to your child's food request is even worse because you are not only contributing to their poor health, but to your own. My suggestion...stay strong and committed to keeping good food at home. The easiest thing to do is to not keep the junk at home so it is not available. If your child is eating at least two healthy meals per day from home, it is better than none!


Friday, January 05, 2007

Long-term data needed on anti-obesity drugs

The long-term safety and efficacy need to be documented for Xenical, Meridia and Acomplia before doctors can be certain that the benefits of these anti-obesity drugs outweigh the risks, according to a commentary appearing in The Lancet.

Xenical (known generically as orlistat) and Meridia (sibutramine) are currently approved for long-term use, while Acomplia (rimonabant) is under review by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Each of the agents carry potentially important adverse effects, the authors note. Treatment with orlistat is associated with frequent gastrointestinal side effects, sibutramine may raise blood pressure and heart rate, and rimonabant may increase the risk of mood disorders.

These adverse effects are typically apparent during short-term use. The greater concern, according to the authors, is what will occur with long-term use.

Steve - hmm. They are NOW worried about the long-term side affects. Should this not have been looked before they were approved years ago? We said this when these drugs first came out.